Special Report

Most Dangerous Cities in the World

Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa
Source: Ngrund / Wikimedia Commons

45. Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa
> Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 39
> Homicides in 2018: 478
> Population: 1,220,616

The murder rate in Nelson Mandela Bay, which comprises the city of Port Elizabeth and surrounding area, increased slightly in 2018, pushing its rank to the world’s 46th highest homicide rate and becoming South Africa’s second most dangerous city. Nelson Mandela Bay and Durban, about 570 miles up the coast, typically trade positions as the country’s second or third most dangerous cities each year. The two have had closely comparable murder rates that have fluctuated between 32 and 39 per 100,000 every year since tracking first began in 2013.

João Pessoa, Brazil
Source: diegograndi / Getty Images

44. João Pessoa, Brazil
> Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 41
> Homicides in 2018: 460
> Population: 1,112,304

Homicides in the easternmost city in the western hemisphere declined from 49.2 per 100,000 residents in 2017 and 47.6 per 100,000 residents in 2018. The murder rate has been cut by nearly half since 2014, when the rate topped 79 per 100,000. That year, the city in the northeastern Paraíba state was the fourth most dangerous city in the world. Tourism is important to the local economy, which might explain the successful efforts to curb violence there.

Guatemala City, Guatemala
Source: Opla / Getty Images

43. Guatemala City, Guatemala
> Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 44
> Homicides in 2018: 1,411
> Population: 3,226,974

Like the two other Central American countries of the Northern Triangle, residents of Guatemala’s capital city are experiencing lower rates of homicide compared to 2017 when the rate hit a four-year high of 53.5 per 100,000 residents. The city’s rank on this list dropped significantly since 2013, when it ranked as eighth most dangerous with a murder rate that topped 68 per 100,000 residents.

Reynosa, Mexico
Source: 18jcr / Wikimedia Commons

42. Reynosa, Mexico
> Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 41
> Homicides in 2018: 295
> Population: 711,130

This northern Mexican border city first appeared on this annual ranking on 2017, debuting as the world’s 38th and the country’s 11th most dangerous city. Reynosa is one of the bigger cities in the country’s northeastern Tamaulipas state, where Mexican anti-cartel operations successfully dismantled the Gulf and Zetas cartel. Unfortunately, this led to turf wars between emerging splinter groups that ravaged the state.

Valencia, Venezuela
Source: Gabriel Enrique / Getty Images

41. Valencia, Venezuela
> Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 42
> Homicides in 2018: 678
> Population: 1,600,662

In 2013, Venezuela’s third largest city, located about 100 miles west of Caracas, barely made the first of this annual list of the world’s 50 most dangerous cities, coming in at number 50. But as the political and economic situations worsened in Venezuela, murders more than doubled in 2014, pushing Valencia to the world’s seventh and the country’s second most dangerous city. Murders declined in 2017 and fell further in 2018, and now the city ranks as the country’s sixth most dangerous.